[rfc-i] RFC Editor structure

SM sm at resistor.net
Wed Sep 10 16:14:02 PDT 2008

At 13:56 08-09-2008, John C Klensin wrote:
>If we can look back several years, the RFC Editor had the
>unquestioned right (and responsibility) to push back on authors
>and the IAB (and then IESG) about fundamental issues of
>technical and editorial quality.   That capability was not just
>an editorial matter; it was a fundamental element in the various
>balances and checks that made up the IETF (and pre-IETF)
>specification review, approval, and standardization processes.

Thanks to John providing a perspective of how the RFC Editor was over 
the years.  His message could be viewed as the minority 
report.  There has been a few (public) comments about the details of 
the proposed structure but nobody asked fundamental questions.

The RFC Editor, through the RFCs, provided a publication of record 
for the Internet community.  It's also a consistent interface which 
ensured the technical and editorial quality of the RFC 
Series.  That's different from a publishing mechanism where each 
stream is viewed independently.

>I think it is time to remember and consider the hypothesis that
>the IETF and the Internet community would be better served by a
>strong RFC Editor model and process, one that can take an active
>role promoting the speed and quality of our work.

 From my reading of RFC 2606, I gathered that the consensus was on 
having a RFC Editor who not only has responsibilities but also some 
discretion.  It was pointed out to me that the responsibilities are 
for the Independent stream and that the model is covered by RFC 4844 
and 4846.  On a tangent, I fail to see how Informational RFCs can 
supersede a BCP but then that's not what this discussion is about.

The proposed structure does not address who is responsible for the 
technical and/or editorial standards; that is unless we reduce that 
to the publication of a Style Manual.  There is mention of a RFC 
Editorial Board without any mention of how it fits in the model.

As in any structure, there is a need for accountability.  How is the 
Independent Streams Editor accountable to the community?  To whom is 
the RFC Editor accountable?

I have not seen any debate in the community about whether the RFC 
Editor should function as a copy editor or a body empowered to ensure 
the continuity of the RFC Series.  It is distressing to see that it 
is not being used by non-IETF bodies as a vehicle to publish 
documents for the Internet community.  Would a strong RFC Editor 
model would help there?  We won't know the answer unless we explore 
the alternatives.


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